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Hilly Power vs Flat Power

Posted By: KP
Date: Saturday, 3 May 2008, at 8:53 p.m.

After the Tucson Endurance Corner camps the guys were discussing power files we gathered from the Mt Lemmon climbs and how they might relate to FTP. It got me thinking about my own hilly power on long rides compared to flat and aero power on long rides. My experience has been that many athletes can hold greater climbing watts over specific time frames when compared to same time over flats. Nearly all Ironman courses are mostly flat, even the hilly ones. Consequently, it behooves most of us who do Ironman to develop the ability to generate power for long periods of time while flat and aero in addition to strength development as a result of climbing. With this in mind I decided to check in on my ability to time trial relative flat terrain on my weekend ride. Two weeks ago I did a 7hr ride with 10,000 feet total elevation gain. Last weekend I did a ride with about 7500 feet of total elevation gain over 5.25 hrs.

NP for the 7hr Anzo Borrego ride was within 2w of NP for the Julian ride from last weekend.
Today I rode on the coast for nearly 5.5hrs and went with several goals:

(1) I had specific power targets in mind and finished exactly on the number I sought.
(2) I had a specific VI or variability index target of 1.05. I finished with 1.03
(3) I wanted to negative split the ride and did that by 7min.
(4) I wanted flat power to be similar to the hilly power profiles of past weekends and I finished 1w higher than Anzo and 3w higher than Julian.
(5) I wanted first half power to be very similar to second half power. They ended up being within a five watts of one another.
The VIs over the two halves were both 1.03 and my cadence was 90 for both halves.

Heart rates were 123 for the first half and 132 for the second resulting in avg HR of 128 for the entire ride. It was a carefully executed ride. For those who know the route, there are occasional stop lights over the first 80min and the last 80min. VI isnít affected by stop lights. VI is affected if we stomp or spike power after stop lights (or in flat IMs, VI is affected by the way we accelerate out of corners or after 180 degree turns like those at IM Brazil). The power I rode with would probably result in HRs of 140 or greater in an IM. That should be a reminder to those of you who do not use a power meter. HR is often lagging when we carry some lingering fatigue. Closely correlate PE and your tendencies to HR and look for clues that will help you avoid overworking interval or longer rides.

Something else about flat power: for me, (to borrow RVís terminology) there is a greater ďx-factorĒ to deal with on the flats. By that I mean there is more discomfort to manage. As well, rider position is more of a factor and greater focus is required to hold power. Where the two weeks prior to todayís ride were Ďfuní // this flat ride was more serious. Itís not that it wasnít enjoyable (I like work) however, greater speeds, riding mostly aero and experiencing different types discomfort, all required additional focus.

But I never did wish I wasnít there!

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